2022 Okoboji Blue

Water Festival



One of rock’s most enduring and favorite female singer-songwriters will headline the evening concert at this summer’s Okoboji Blue Water Festival on Saturday, August 13. Melissa Etheridge – the artist with the raspy, smoky voice who has remained one of America’s favorite performers – will continue the festival’s reputation for drawing name acts to the concert stage. “We are proud to bring Melissa Etheridge to Okoboji to culminate our event,” said festival co-chair Greg Drees. “She has sustained a more than three-decade career of excellence.”

The festival is an all-day family event to raise public awareness of water quality issues in the Iowa Great Lakes. The concert brings completion to the day’s activities. Etheridge will perform with her band on the new stage in Preservation Plaza at the Arnolds Park Amusement Park. “The concert is our way of wrapping up the day of water quality education,” said festival co-chair Julie Peterson.

Etheridge is an artist of conviction and the author of confessional lyrics, reflecting on her experiences as a breast cancer survivor and the architect of the Melissa Etheridge Foundation, which dedicates monies for research into opioid addiction.

Etheridge’s early career blossomed quickly with the release of her self-titled first album in 1988. She accomplished memorable songwriting achievements, such as “Ain’t it Heavy,” which won her a Grammy Award in 1992. The following year, she won artistic and commercial critical acclaim with her fourth album, “Yes I Am.” That collection included “Come to My Window,” the searing song of longing that won her a second Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance.

Etheridge’s career remained vibrantly relevant into the next millennium, and in 2007 she won the “Best Song” category at the Academy Awards for “I Need to Wake Up,” written for a noted documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.

Three more albums, “This is M.E.” in 2014, “Memphis Rock & Soul” in 2016 and “The Medicine Show” in 2019, her 15th studio recording, solidified Etheridge’s standing in the industry as a steadfast and creative artist. Never one to sit on her laurels, Etheridge release “One Way Out” in 2021, a collection of songs she wrote in the 80’s and 90’s that never made the cut. But they have now, and Etheridge fans can take a journey back in time to get a glimpse of her past.

The Okoboji Blue Water Festival welcomes Melissa Etheridge to the concert stage on August 13, 2022. Music lovers of all ages are invited to this free event to showcase one of rock’s best-loved performers.  


Chad Pregracke_16barge (2).jpg

One of the country’s most dynamic public speakers on the environment will deliver the keynote address at the 2022 Okoboji Blue Water Festival. Event co-chairs Greg Drees and Julie Peterson said bringing Pregracke to the seventh edition of the festival is a coup for the event “Chad embraces the festival’s theme of clean water, and he is excited to come here and share his impassioned journey with us,” Peterson said. Pregracke is the president and founder of Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) and for more than two decades has devoted himself wholly and tirelessly to cleaning up the nation’s rivers. “Chad’s enthusiasm is contagious and his work ethic unparalleled,” Drees said. “He will have festival patrons on the edge of their seats.”

Pregracke spent his youth growing up and working on the Mississippi River near his home in East Moline, Illinois. Working as a commercial shell diver, he was appalled at an early age by the amount of garbage in the river and decided if no one else was going to do anything about it, he would. He began a solo campaign to clean a stretch of the river, a quest that seemed both daunting and impossible. But Chad’s refusal to be discouraged and his signature relentless ambition and work ethic produced results. Over the years he grew his one-man crusade into a crew of over 120,000 volunteers that have organized and led more than 1,200 community cleanups on 23 rivers in 21 states and removed more than 11 million tons of garbage.

Over the years, Chad broadened his vision beyond river revivals to tree planting and a floating classroom aboard a barge that teaches students, educators and individuals about the value of our water and other natural resources.

Pregracke’s outreach has touched countess people, including former President George W. Bush who recognized him as a national “Point of Light.” He received a standing ovation from all four living former U.S. Presidents at the Kennedy Center for his inspirational message on dreaming big, taking action, persevering, leading and collaborating. In 2013, Chad was honored as CNN Hero of the Year.

Pregracke has been the keynote speaker for graduations, business conferences and events, classrooms nonprofit organizations and more. Named “America’s Hardest Working Person” by Mitchum, Chad’s enthusiasm, sense of humor and passion amplify his story and entertain audiences.

   The Nadas & The Firm added to concert lineup


The concert lineup for the Okoboji Blue Water Festival is now fully in place with the
announcement that The Nadas and The Firm will join Melissa Etheridge on Saturday evening, August 13. “We are stoked to welcome The Nadas and The Firm
to the festival stage to complete the musical card,” said event chair Greg Drees.

The Nadas are Iowa’s signature alt rock-country band, with sales of more than 200,000 albums through their own label, Authentic Records. Singers/guitarists Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith, bassist Brian Duffy, keyboardist Neil Stoffregren and drummer Brandon Stone mix country, rock, alternative and indie with flawless songwriting and catchy melodies for a crowd-pleasing experience.

Popular Omaha based band The Firm will kick things off on festival evening at 6:30 PM. The Nadas will take the stage at 7:30 PM and headliner Melissa Etheridge will perform at 9 PM.

“This is a stellar lineup of music and the perfect way to culminate the Okoboji Blue Water Festival,” Drees said.



1. Use mulch and vegetation to keep soil from washing away.

2. Sweep or rake grass and leaves away from street curbs.

3. Mulch and compost grass clippings and leaves.

4. Keep paved surfaces to a minimum.

5. Capture water runoff with a rain garden & rain barrels.

6. Wash your car on the grass, where the water will get filtered away.

7. Keep chemicals away from storm drains.

8. Collect your pet's waste.

9. Aim your rain-gutter downspouts onto the grass.

Schedule of Events 2022

  • 8 AM-Chalkstock

  • 10:00 AM-Kid's Storytime

  • 10 AM -2 PM-Kid's & Family Activities

  • 10 AM-3 PM-Exhibitors

  • 10 AM-Fishing Seminar with Keith Kavajez

  • 3 PM – Chad Pregracke Keynote Address

  • 6:30 PM – The Firm in Concert

  • 7:30 PM – The Nadas in Concert

  • 9 PM – Melissa Etheridge in Concert